Who Needs Words Anyways? Facebook and the Future of Instant Emotional Reactions

We’ve all been there-your friend on Facebook posts a devastating news story about the Zika virus, some shocking statistics about the gender pay gap, or one of (B&O office favorite) Matt Bellassi’s hilarious weekly Wine About It videos. You go for the “like” button, but it feels … a little off (do you REALLY want to “like” a post saying ‘I just got into a car accident. Other car got flipped over but I’m all good.’, so you take to the comment section.

No longer!

Instead of having its users continually spam posts with “lol!,” “OMG,” or “aw, ” Facebook is making it even easier to express exactly how you feel with its new reaction buttons.

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While these new emoji reactions will finally allow you to adequately express your “Love” for your aunt’s amazing banana bread recipe, it will also have a greater effect on social marketing and PR efforts. Especially intimidating for brands and media professionals: the “sad” and “angry” buttons. Though dissatisfied customers have been using replies and comments to share their frustrations on social since its inception, these negative responses are quicker and require less thought. This means an annoyed user who previously may not have taken the energy to bag on a brand in the comments section can now deliver digital disapproval with the click of a mouse.

Of course, Facebook’s emotional expansion also opens the door for more nuanced and enthusiastic interaction between brands and users as well. Buttons like “Haha,” “Wow,” and “Love” demonstrate a higher level of interest in content and can garner more precise data surrounding what makes a campaign successful.

But why stop there? We here at B&O have a few suggestions of other popular emojis that we’d love to see on Facebook (Mr. Zuckerberg: you can use these ideas free of charge):

  • “Ooops” face: Perfect for when you accidentally like your ex’s 2012 study abroad photo album
  • “Peace” fingers: You know those two people you went to high school with who are in an endless Facebook war? Throw one of these their way.
  • “Side eye” face: Because you can’t just write “REALLY? Another picture of your brunch?”
  • “Cool” sunglasses face: Trying to cover up your jealousy of someone’s vacation pictures? This one’s for you!

We’ll have to wait and see users’ emotional responses to Facebook’s latest attempt at boosting engagement, but one thing’s for sure: it’s bound to change the face of social.